By Open Book
Today Video on Demand or VOD has breathed new life into independent filmmaking. As big studios began closing their Art House Divisions in favor of producing Tent Pole attractions moviegoers discovered the world of VOD or streaming video technology. Not to say the Big Blockbuster are a thing of the past (The Avengers confirms Blockbusters are here to stay). However, last year in an article Blockbuster vs. Indie Films Part 1&2 highlighted the problems facing the independent film industry. In this article we will revisit the current film market and what VOD offers moviegoers and independent filmmakers.
It’s hard to believe a moviegoer would pay to see a film first on VOD, then pay to see it again in theaters? But then again, why would consumers pay to watch a film in theaters then watch it again on DVD? Perhaps, the order of events is not as important as the repetition of an experience, especially if that experience awakens your mind and spirit. In January 2011 an article from The Wall Street Journal, titled For Indie Films, Video on Demand Fills In Revenue Gap by Ethan Smith he states,
- “The new Natalie Portman drama, “The Other Woman,” premiered on IFC’s video-on-demand platform at the beginning of this year, but won’t hit theaters until February. Jonathan Sehring, president of IFC Entertainment and Sundance Selects, says the movie is “already on track to be our single most successful release on VOD ever.
VOD is still very new but the success of Netflix, YouTube and Google Play suggest consumers want more than what’s playing at the multiplex. In January 2012 writer Jonathan Poritsky of The Candler Blog he states,
- “I just think audiences are getting tired of what is at the multiplex,” says Poritsky. “They’re tired of paying so much to see a lot of the same movies.”
- “Which is leading adventurous audiences out to new venues. There’s been a resurgence of the art house in the past decade, with a new model emerging: that of the non-profit movie theater.”
Its common practice for studios to produce similar content to “guarantee” profit given commercial films need to appeal to mass audiences? In other words, big studios have become synonymous with Wal-Mart churning out sequels, franchises and reboots with little concern for innovation or originality. Today VOD offers moviegoers access to innovated filmmaking and perhaps the ability to dictate the next commercial trend in cinema? Weinstein Co. behind the Oscar winning film, The Artist and countless other indie films nominated for an Oscar last year seems to also believe VOD is the way of the future. According to The Wall Street Journal,
- “Weinstein Co. bought a 25% stake in Starz Media from Liberty Media Corp. for an undisclosed price. Owning a piece of Starz Media, which licenses and distributes films and TV shows for video-on-demand and online distribution, gives the studio flexibility to deal with the shifting media landscape, says Weinstein Co. Chief Operating Officer David Glasser.”
After studios pressured theaters to switch from 35mm to digital technology its less expensive to distribute indie films. This change along with streaming video offers independent filmmakers hope for the future. However, for them to compete with blockbuster films it requires savvier marketing campaigns. The truth is advertising is essential to a film’s success or failure. The small budget film that makes triple its production and marketing budget is what VOD can offer. Yet, if a film doesn’t have long-term appeal and substance, none of it matters. What does VOD offer consumers? Greater diversity and opportunity to discover cult films, make them classic and influence commercial films. Its well known a $6.99 VOD release can acquire a healthy profit in just a few weeks with little print and advertising dollars spent.  Yes, many mourned the closing of Independent theater houses. However is it possible have they just evolved?
Please join our discussion Tuesday May 15th, 2012@7pmE/12UTC